Nature of the World Education Fellowship

The WEF was founded* in 1921 as the New Education Fellowship, later (in 1966) changed its name to the World Education Fellowship. Although it has embraced a wide range of individual philosophies, the central focus has been on child-centred education, social reform through education, democracy, world citizenship, international understanding and the promulgation of world peace. Its foundation can be traced back to 1915 with the establishment of the ‘Theosophical Fraternity of Education’, led by a group of educators who believed the aim of education was to enable teachers to understand the factors involved in developing of human beings and their relationships to tackle the problems which were seen to be threatening civilisation. The Fellowship’s work quickly spread around the world; with annual international conferences and the publication of its journal ‘The New Era’. With the onset of the Second World War, the work of the WEF was suppressed in many countries around the world. However, from 1945 many branches were re-established with a number of members playing key roles in the establishment of UNESCO. Today the WEF is a UNESCO non-governmental organisation and designated peace messenger to the United Nations. The WEF is headquartered in London, United Kingdom, with sections in Australia, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, South Africa, the United States of America, and lately Botswana.

The Fellowship meets biennially in international conferences, publishes books and pamphlets, and, through its national sections, participates in workshops, meetings and developmental projects. The Fellowship does not advocate any dogma; each member is free to put its principles into practice in ways which are best suited to his/her living and working environment.

Credit: Additional material from the WEF archive at the UCL Institute of Education.

*WEF was founded by English theosophical educationist Beatrice Ensor (1885–1974), pictured (front row 4th L-R among some foundation  members of what was New Education Fellowship in 1921). Two other initiators were Elisabeth Rotten (1882-1964) for the German language sections who later became vice chair of New Education Fellowship, and Adolphe Ferrière (1879 – 1960) for the French-speaking sections.

Principles of the World Education Fellowship

The primary purpose of education today is to help all of us to grow as self-respecting, sensitive, confident well-informed, competent and responsible individuals in society and in the world community.

People develop these qualities when they live in mutually supportive environments where sharing purposes and problems generates friendliness, commitment and cooperation. Schools should aim to be communities of this kind.

Learners should, as early as possible, take responsibility for the management of their own education in association with and support from others. They should be helped to achieve both local involvement and a global perspective.

High achievement is best obtained by mobilising personal motivation and creativity within a context of open access to a variety of learning opportunities.

Methods of assessment should aim to describe achievement and promote self-esteem.


Activities of the World Education Fellowship

Identify and pursue changes in policies and practices to meet the varying individual and shared educational needs of people of all ages.

Promote greater social and economic justice and equality through achieving a high standard of education for all groups worldwide.

Encourage a balance between an education which nourishes the personal growth of individuals and one which stresses the social responsibility of each to work towards improving the human and physical world environment.

Foster educational contacts between all peoples including people from the third world in order to further international understanding and peace.

Promote education as a lifelong process for all people, regardless of sex, race, beliefs, economic status or abilities.

Encourage cooperative community involvement in clarifying educational goals and undertaking educational programmes.

Secure for teachers the training, facilities, opportunities and status they need to be effective, professional people.